The University of Florida’s Chinese American Student Association (CASA) and Korean Undergraduate Student Association (KUSA) collaborated for the first time ever at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to put on their spring Lunar New Year Festival event.

The show included a romantic comedy skit about Chinese and Korean UF students who fall in love and celebrate the Lunar New Year with each other’s families only to realize that their families celebrate the holiday differently. The show also included performances from organizations such as ECHO Dance Crew, Genesis Dance Crew and Vertax, the UF Chinese yo-yo group.

Attendees were able to enjoy free food, raffles and cultural booths with Lunar New Year themed games and activities.

Katie Lee, one of KUSA’s special events coordinators, said CASA and KUSA usually have their own cultural shows, but they wanted do a collaboration, so people could get an understanding of Chinese and Korean culture including the similarities and differences between the two.

“We are sub-organizations under the Asian American Student Union, and one of our pillars is unity, so we thought that pairing up would show that,” Lee said. Sara Han, one of CASA’s special events coordinators, said that CASA and KUSA usually have large turnouts for their cultural shows. Han said that about 760 people attended this year’s show.

Han said the planners decided to have the festival at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the first time in order to make it a grander event.

“The Reitz Grand Ballroom, which is where we’ve had shows in the past, can only hold so many people,” Han said. “Also, having it on a real stage shows the audience the amount of respect we have for this show and the performers.”

Eric Chen, CASA’s other special events coordinator, said that past coordinators have talked about changing up the cultural shows; however he and Han really pushed for the show’s new collaboration and location this year.

“Planning this was a challenge, but it’s a good way to move forward with the organization instead of repeating the same things over and over,” Chen said.

Chen said that he finds the Lunar New Year to be a special time to come together and celebrate family and tradition. “I was the only person in my family born in America, so sometimes I feel a little detached from my culture,” Chen said. “The Lunar New Year is a good time to look back at where I came from and celebrate traditions that I usually don’t.”  

Savannah Peltrau, a 19-year-old environmental science student at UF, said that she heard about the Lunar New Year festival through her roommate, and she wanted to check it out to see Asian culture at its finest.

She said she appreciates how these cultural shows create a community and a bonding experience.“People should go to events like these because otherwise, people wouldn’t get to know what other cultures actually do,” Peltrau said. “Culture appreciation is especially important because otherwise, divisions form.”

Photos by Ingrid Wu.